Anyone with open eyes or ears today is well aware of at least one, and likely two very high-profile cases. The first, and most dramatic, being that of Michael Brown, who was shot and killed by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9, 2014. An event that almost immediately led to a series of actions, violence, rioting, looting, and other criminal acts in the name of “outrage”. Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, and his head of the Justice Department, Eric Holder jumped quickly on the bandwagon to label the incident as a racially-motivated crime against an unarmed, surrendering black male (6’5″ tall, and bumping 300lbs, though immediately called a “gentile giant”). Thousands of people stormed the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, overturning cars, breaking windows, setting structures and vehicles ablaze in immediate outrage.
Celebrities joined the fray with accusations, and most of the mainstream media continued to add fuel to the fire. Capping the events were the typical suspects of race-hustlers, including the “Reverend” Al Sharpton. Yet even as the outrage swelled, and gestures of hands in the air became almost a symbol of pop culture, evidence began emerging that the version of the events as told by Officer Wilsion told was the most accurate. Indeed, we have since found out that Officer Wilson had lived a life far from one that reflected someone with racial bias. Death threats quickly emerged. As the hearing before a Grand Jury grew closer, organizers began planning out specific targets (oddly enough, with very specific racial lines stated).
Then comes the Grand Jury’s decision to not insight Officer Wilson, as the evidence did not support pursing criminal charges (having the effect of identifying the shooting as justifiable). Within an hour, riots and looting again breaking out. Sadly, video emerged of parents taking along very young children in their looting exploits.
Soon after the Grand Jury decision in the Ferguson case, the media began focusing attention on another case, this one in New York involving City Police who in a videotaped incident, used a chokehold on Eric Garner, leading ultimately to his death. Again, a Grand Jury decided to not insight officers. In this case, there were large-scale protests, but not the violence seen in the wake of the Ferguson case.
Inflammatory statements have been put out – such as “police (implied as white officers) have declared open season on black males”, with many from the Congressional Black Caucus, to several pundits in the media (and even a handful of players on the St. Louis Rams football team) joining in the “show”.
A viral hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has emerged as a top trending hit on Twitter…
And the more I see, the more frustrated, and even offended I am becoming. The question begs – do not not all lives matter? My Bible does not differentiate by race. In fact, in the Old Testament, the Law required the blood of those who murdered others. In my lifetime, I have witnessed many changes in race relations. I have watched race relations improve, and in the last 6 years take a serious turn for the worse. I was raised to look first at a person’s character, and to treat everyone as a person. Yet one of the greatest factors in perpetuating and more recently inflaming race issue has been, oddly enough, the dwelling on race. In particular, as we see in the recent high-profile cases (and the previous very public case of George Zimmerman and the young man he shot and killed, Trayvon Martin), the knee-jerk outrage, based apparently, not so much on the event itself, but the race (or perceived race) of the perpetrator and victim.
Do #BlackLivesMatter? Of course. But I again say, the Bible says ALL life matters. Injustice is injustice. If we want racism to die (or at least substantially disappear), the first key is going to be to quit picking and choosing which lives we identify as valuable. When anyone is killed (or brutalized) by law enforcement – we should raise the same questions, and if indeed it is unjust, be outraged, regardless of the race of the officer(s) or the victim. Just as we should be outraged when mobs of teens rampage through the streets playing the so-called “knock-out game” (with the near exclusive perpetrators being young African-Americans, and victims being any other race). Al Sharpton should start showing up when any serious human injustice emerges (and only when the evidence is clear it is, indeed an injustice).
We as a society must open our eyes to the fact that the sins of hate (Jesus literally stated that if we “hate”, we commit murder in our hearts!), pride, selfishness, and jealousy are wrong, regardless of who they are targeted towards.
As many dwell on the past in our own nation (with slavery being a reemerging topic, thanks to the likes of Representative Charles Rangel), slavery and human trafficking is actually growing in our world -with no single race being targeted. How about joining together to fight it wherever it happens TODAY?
And the one true puzzle to me when it comes to selective outrage – one that is possibly more offensive than the previously-discussed episodes – is that horrors and injustice that our own culture, in the United States, where our nation was launched with the Declaration of Independence, that opens its preamble with We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are LIFE… has chosen collectively to legitimize the deprivation of this first delineated right to over 56 million unborn babies in the last 40+ years. If this truth isn’t worth of outrage, then how about the statistic that black babies in New York are statistically more likely to be aborted than to be born! Or how about the selective outrage over the supposed open hunting season on black males by law enforcement (never mind that statistically, black men are shot by black officers at the same rate as by white officers), while the number one cause of death of young black males, is murder by other black males.
Michael Brown committed a crime involving some “low-level” violence against a convenience store owner (who, by the way, was victimized again by the latest round of looting and riots in Ferguson), and apparently did struggle physically with the much smaller Officer Wilson. Did Brown “deserve to die” for his strong-arm robbery of the convenience store? No. Did he “deserve to die” in the street, riddled with bullets? i won’t even say he deserved that. But he did make a series of bad decisions that began long before that fateful August day that led to what ultimately became his last decision. But even then – it grieves me that he lost his life as a result.
Eric Garner was breaking the law (selling untaxed cigarettes on a street corner), and he was somewhat less than cooperative with police (who were made up of multiple races). Did he deserve to die for that “crime”? No. Am I saddened by his death? Yes.
But I am also grieved for the officers who have been murdered by perpetrators of many races. I am outraged when a person can get drunk get behind the wheel of a vehicle and kill someone else through their intoxicated driving, and essentially get a slap on the wrist.
I am outraged when a driver chooses to ignore the flashing lights and the swing-out stop sign on a school bus, going around the stopped bus, striking and killing the child who just stepped off the bus (regardless of the race of that child or the driver).
I am outraged when there are people who have a vested, financial incentive to perpetuate racism, who constantly drum up race, even when it has nothing to do with a situation.
I too am outraged when it does seem that sometimes our legal system does not wear the blindfold “Lady Justice” is usually depicted wearing.
I am outraged and saddened when Islamic terrorists round up professed Christians, and violently execute them for their faith.
And we should all be outraged by the same. Treat injustice as injustice. Be consistent. To be selectively outraged is to destroy any credibility one has.
The answer is quite simple – lets do what Jesus said to do when He was quizzed on the “greatest commandment:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”